Children and young people have suffered especially during multiple Covid lockdowns, being isolated at home, away from school and their friends. Although many adults turned to books during this time, some kids found it harder and parents struggling to juggle home schooling and work would often resort to screens to occupy them.

One of my cousins got in touch to say this was exaclty what had happened with a young member of our extended family and to ask if I could send her some of my books to reignite her love of reading.

Of course, I was only too happy to do so but thought I would write her a letter too. It then occurred to me that this might also inspire other children to pick up a book again and so I am publishing an extract from it here:

“I just found out we are distant cousins which is very exciting. Hopefully we can actually meet up sometime soon now that the lockdowns are over. You must be happy to be back at school and see your friends again.

When I was your age, I went to boarding school thousands of miles away from my home and my mum. It was a bit like lockdown as we couldn’t go out of the school grounds and we had lots of rules. We were allowed to watch TV on Sunday and once in the week. We couldn’t phone our parents but wrote letters instead and we had nothing like laptops or iPads or smartphones. Can you imagine that?

What we did have were books with wonderful stories. I loved them so much I used to hide under my duvet at night with a torch to read them (don’t tell anyone). I would imagine I was a character in one of those books, fighting dragons or riding them, visiting other worlds and going backwards and forwards in time. That’s the wonderful thing about books – you can put yourself in them and be a part of the story too.

Reading all those stories meant that I became a writer when I grew up so I could carry on doing something I love. Now I write stories not just for me but for lots of other people so they, too, can go to other places and have new adventures in their imagination.

I wrote the books I am sending you because I grew up far away in Hong Kong, which is why I went to boarding school, and loved visiting places like the Himalayas with my mum. When we travelled, we would meet all kinds of people which is a bit like what happens when you read except that you can do so any time and anywhere.

They are about a girl goddess from another world, one I imagine is somewhere beyond the Himalayas. She’s a pretty cool goddess who gets kidnapped by some evil people and ends up in New York where she makes new friends who help her solve a big mystery. I won’t tell you too much more because it might spoil the surprises in the books but I hope you enjoy them. I also hope you are thinking of doing something you love when you grow up. There really is nothing better.”